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MELCHISEDEK - An Appraisal

by W. Bro.G.C.Love, PJGD.
Victorian Lodge of Research No.218
United Grand Lodge of Victoria, Australia




            To fully investigate this subject from, say a masonic viewpoint, is simple compaired to placing "M" in a mystical, religious or historical context.  Hence my approach has not been a strictly Judaeo-Christian approach, but hopefully, an unbiased academic one.  Perhaps the most illiogical of all “M” statements, I found, came from H.W.Armstrong (1956) on the Radio Church of God.  "He (M.) was not the Son of God, for He had not yet been BORN of the Virgin Mary...".

            A few comments must be made with regard to the use of terms, because I find myself continually seeing the subject matter from two widely differing angles; firstly, that of human Priest-King, and secondly of a concept not human.  Is it possible that a problem which "haunts" a Christian mind is that of an avatar, a Christified person; the Christ, Jesus; a Christ, Jesus (an avatar); and Lord Jesus Christ?  This is important because it is only when an appreciation of this term is reached, that some form of higher understanding of the What called Melchizedek can be reached.

            We do know Melchi-Zedak was first mentioned in Webb's Monitor in 1882, with indications it was instituted in 1799 by Webb and others in General Grand Chapter, USA, so states Harding.

            Neil Whitford in his paper, "The Enigma of Melchizedek (1988)", says; "Prior to his untimely death, Tom Muggeridge prepared a paper on this topic, which has since, become either mislaid or lost.  This is a great pity, for I am sure that he would have treated the subject with great insight".  The paper was not missing, it was in my library.  A copy, of which, has since been forwarded to the Knight Templer Priest Grand Tabernacle.  It can be said that Muggeridge did state in his paper, no reference though, “…Contrary to many cherished man-thought-out-ideas, Melchizedek and Christ are one and the same….. It is the function of the High Priest to lead the way to salvation”.  This would be a Christians' statement as Gershom Scholem, in “Jewish Mysticism”, 7th lecture, states, “…mystical meditations of the Kabbalists on theogony and cosmogony thus produced a non-Messianic and individualistic mode of redemption or salvation”.

            Yet, I’m sure this subject only became a masonic subject when Melchisedek was introduced into it via Christian masons.  My reason for saying this is that IT is actually a religious and historical problem.  Still, it is part of masonic orders so we must address the subject.



            An enigma.  Heb: malki-tsedhek, king of righteousness. Melk = “King”, with Tsedeq = Pillar.  The pillar, ofcourse, plays a significant part in freemasonry.  For example, the three Craft pillars; the three pillars in the Scottish Rite (Rose Croix) and the "Pillar'd Priests" of the Knight Templar Priests, to name a few.

            The biblical story talks of the King of Salem (identified as Jerusalem) who blessed Abraham, in the name of “God the Most High, possessor of heaven and earth” (Gen. 14:18-20), after he, Abraham, had returned from his pursuit of five Mesopotamian kings (Chedorlaomer, the King of Elam) in the Vale of Siddim (Shaveh). Having said such, it may be that MLKY SDQ in fact is not a person but is a contracted form of mlwk (Arabic for ‘mouthful’), ie, lwk sdq (mouthful of offering), refer “Melchizedek: Clues to a Pantheon”, Salibi, 1985. Yet A.Osman in “The House of the Messiah” (1992) agrees with the traditional interpretation (Gen 14: 18-20), while Gaskell states, “A symbol of the Higher self. A type of the Christ, who is the centre and pivot from which all manifestation proceeds. His kingdom is the abode of the bliss (Salem) and peace, upon the higher planes.  He is all Truth and Righteousness; second to none, - the first and the last - the one emanation from the Absolute”.. and .. “A symbol of authority and power over the lower nature, attained by the Self who has undertaken to go forth and accomplish his evolution”.  He appears in Psalm 110:4; “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek”.  The ideal ruler of the Hebrew nation would be one who combined in his person the role of both priest and king.  The question begs, "Is this what a Pope sees of himself?"

            The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews uses Melchizedek (Heb.5-7) in his great argument where he shows forth Jesus as the final and perfect revelation of G’d because in His person He is Son, and in His work He is Priest (Heb. 1:2-10:18).  The author cites Psalm 110:4 indicating that Jesus’ priesthood is of a different order from the Levitical (being that) “after the order of Melchizedek”.  Is their an inference here that the Levitcal Line cannot produce a Christ, whereas the Melchizedek Line does?  Hence the reason for no Judaic Messiah?

            In line with Salibi's thinking is the story told by an unusual publication, the Urantia Book.  It is a book composed of "divinely" written papers that were "bestowed" upon a human contact person in the early 1930s for publication.  This book defines melchizadeck as a generic term to describe a type of being.  So explains Mark Roebuck.

            Yet, Michael Gates notes that, "there is a Gnostic Christian text called 'Melchizedek' included in a The Nag Hammadi Library".  Pearson comments on this further, ".. In this tractate, Melchizedek's appearance in the endtime is tied to the career of Jesus Christ. .... In other words, Jesus IS Melchizedek! .... an interpretation of Hebrews 7:3. .... Melchizedek as the 'Son of God' (=Jesus Christ) gained currency in some early Christian circles, particularly in Egypt".  Is this the hidden "key" within the Egyptian Metu Neter (some wrongly know it as the Book of the Dead)?

            But, for a twist to the story we need only turn to Gardner when he says, “…Fragments of the Prince Melchisedek Document found among the Dead Sea Scrolls indicate that Melchisedek (author suggests Melchi-Zadok) and (Archangel) Michael were one and the same.  This Zadok aspect is also referred to by Eisenman in his book “James the Brother of Jesus” at page 308.


The Man and his Life: In the slavonic apocalypse of 2 Enoch he is mentioned as having been born and ascended just prior to the Flood.  If this, from a Old Testament Pseudepigraphic viewpoint, is true, then Melchizedek was “born” before The Flood (c.4000 BCE - this date tends to be the usually accepted geological date).  The miraculous conception of him without human father from his mother, Sothonim’s, lifeless body. His legitimacy of priest in heaven places him (according some Biblical Scholars) in the forefront to Jesus.  That is, Jesus being of the Melchizedekian Line (opposite to Levitical), remembering that Melchisedek was the first to offer “bread and wine as a type of Christ (meaning an annointed)”.



The Biblical references are; Genesis 14:18-24; Psalms 110:4; Hebrews 3:1, 5:1-10, 7:1-22, 21: John 3:5, 6:35,48,58 and 11 QMelch.

            A summary offering from Mackey will probably cover many of the volumes that have been written, quoted and discussed on this aspect.  Mackey states, "Melchisedek, King of Salem, and a priest of the Most High God, of whom all that we know is to be found in the passages of Scripture read at the conferring of the degree of High Priesthood.  Some theologians have supposed him to have been Shem, the son of Noah.  The sacrifice of offering bread and wine is first attributed to Melchisedek; and hence, looking to the similar Mithraic sacrifice, Higgins is inclined to believe that he professed the religion of Mithras.  He abandoned the sacrifice of slaughtered animals, and to quote the words of (St.) Jerome, 'Offered bread and wine as a type of Christ'.  Hence, in the New Testament, (Jesus) Christ is represented as a priest after the order of Melchisedek".


NOTE: I’ve referred to Mackey because Coil (even in the 1996 revised edition) still has almost  nothing to say on the subject.


            Having tried to summarise this aspect, I now find it necessary to include a quote from the Gnostic writings of Nag Hammadi.  These statements (a) Comment, and b) Quote are from 'Melchizedek IX 1, 1-27, 10'.

a) Comment - In this tractate the role of Melchizedek as an eschatological high priest and Messianic warrior reflects Jewish speculations on Melchizedek current at the turn of the Common Era.  Melchizedek tractates contain revelations given to Melchizedek by heavenly messengers.  The first revelation (M.IX 1, 1-14,15) prophesies concerning the life, suffering, death, and victory of Jesus Christ (Yeshuah), and the future high-priestly role to be played by Melchizedek himself.  From this last statement, one is caused to ask, if M. was beside Abram, yet here at Yeshuah's time then either there are more than one M., else, M. is a concept to be persued?

b) Quote - (these will seem cryptic yet telling) "..[They] will come in his name, 'and they will say of him that he is' unbegotten though he has been begotten, (that) he does not 'eat even though he eats (that) he does not drink even though he drinks, (that) he is uncircumcised' though he has been circumcised, (that) he is unfleshly 'though he has come in flesh, (that) he did not 'come to suffering <though> he came to suffering, '(that) he did not rise from the dead <though> he arose from [the]' dead.  Refer NH-M(IX):5:1-20.  Just as the One who truly exists '[of those who] exist [received the] greatness '[...'do(es)] not [exist], Abel, Baruch [] you (sing.) the knowledge [...] 'that he is [from 'the] race of the High Priest'..  Refer NH-M(IX):6:15.

            And [immediately 'I] arose, [I, Melchizedek], 'and I began to [...]' God [...]' that I should [rejoice ...] while he [is acting...]' living [..I said], I [... and I] will not cease, from [now on' for ever], O Father of the [All,' because] you have had pity on me, and [you have sent the] angel of light' [....] from your [aeons' ... to] reveal [....]' when he came [.... he raised] me up from ignorance' and [from] the fruitfulness' of death to life. I' have it as a name.  'I, Melchizedek, the Priest of [God] Most High.  I '[know] that I am truly, '[verily], the true High Priest '[of] God Most High, and '[...] the world.  Refer NH-M(IX):14:16-26 and 15:1-15.

            Meanwhile, in comparison, the Qumran (Dead Sea) Scrolls had this say concerning the mysterious figure M.  Once again it is not practical nor correct to quote the entire text, only a short exerpt must suffice.  For the text refer A.S.van de Woude, “Melchizedek als himmlische Erlosergestalt”, Leiden, 1965.  The following quotes being from within Vermes writings.  “(11Q Melch)..The heavenly deliverer is Melchizedek. Identical with the archangel Michael, he is the head of the ‘sons of Heaven’ or ‘gods of Justice’  Here Melchizedek is portrayed as presiding over the final judgement and condemnation of his demonic counterpart, Belial.”  And Isa.lxi.1, an interpretation, “..And the Day of Atonement is the end of the tenth Jubilee, when all the Sons of Light and the men of the lot of Melchizedek will be atoned for…”  Also mentioning this “judgement” is Psalms vii,7-8; lxxxii,1-2.  This though must be explained by a further quote; “..And your Elohim is Melchizedek, who will save them from the hand of the Melkiresha [Prince of Darkness].

NB:  Let us remember that the Prince of Darkness (Melkiresha) often referred to, outside of these writings, as “Satan” (lit. he who hinders) was no demon or evil spirit being a member of the Divine household like other angelic beings. Refer 4QAmram.

            Just when the dust has settled so-to-speak, Graves (in the "White Goddess", pgs 161 & 162) espouses; "...the Sacred King of Salem who welcomed 'Abraham' to Canaan ('Abraham' being in this sense the far-travelled tribe that came down into Palestine from Armenia at the close of the third millenium B.C.) 'had neither father nor mother'.    (that) Schofield in his Historical Background to the Bible notes that to this day (1981 at least) the people of Hebron have not forgiven David for moving his capital to Jerusalem ('Holy Salem') which they refer to as 'The New Jerusalem' as though Hebron were the authentic one. There is a record in the Talmud of a heretical sect of Jews, called Melchizedekians, who frequented Hebron to worship the body ... of Adam ....."   " .. Melchizedek's lack of a father is intelligble, but why should he have no mother? .... It is the transitional stage from matriarchy to patriarchy."


Melchisedek and Jesus.  Hunt in his Masonic (Bible) Concordance has this to say (concerning M.), “Perfection is not to be in the Levitical priesthood for those priests were made without an oath, but Christ was made with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the Order of Melchisedec; by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament”.  Eisenman (James the Brother of Jesus) also makes reference to this Perfection aspect, although he states “…. repeated claims about his Perfection”.

Stranger still was this as received via the Net with no source attached.  Melchisedek and Jesus Christ both share some interesting parallel facts in their lives.  Both were Kings and High priests of the Most High Lord God.  They both seem to have regarded Bread and Water as a symbolic means with which to restore the soul.  Neither his nor Jesus' name were inscribed on the books of the Priesthood of Aaron, nor were they from a Levite family, the hereditory "caste" from which the Jewish priesthood (of the time) from.  Melchisedek was Black, born, raised and lived among the descendents of Ham.  Jesus Christ was of the family of David, with Black ancestors like Boaz and Solomon.

"Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hand unto God". Psalms 68:31



            Most of us will hear of this "person" only in other masonic Orders, such as Knights Templar, Knight Templar Priests (KTP), Allied Masonic Degrees (AMD) and Scottish Rite, as Melchisedek had no part in the ritual or legends of Craft Masonry.  Cryer, in his "Speculations", presents a brief history when he says, "Orders of the "Priesthood of Melchizedek" were known in Central Europe around 1770-1780.  By the time the same kind of degree re-emerges in the USA in the early years of the 19th century, it had become the "Sublime Order of High Priesthood".  From there it came to Ireland, and thence to Lancashire and northern England", and "..What is clear, however, is that while the (KTP) remained strictly Christian, the (AMD) Order of the Grand High Priest had become universal in spirit".

            Before we proceed, I feel I must comment on masonic writers, with regard to our subject.  It would seem that much of the masonic writings on Melkisedek appear to embody just the devout Christian, yet I'm sure innocent, implications.  Very little, if any, is to be found on the real potential background to the term 'Melchisedek'.  This would seem strange when in this enlightened age writers are 'tearing at' the very fabric of what was the sacred name "Jesus".


Holy Royal Arch

            For the Royal Arch Mason, what has been lost in that Order (the High Priest Breastplate) is retained in the Allied Masonic Degree of "Grand High Priest".  The headgear and breastplate were a regular part of pre-1856 Royal Arch Masonry.  Those shown at Annex ‘A’ are a formal version of the type worn by the Principals of the Chapter of Melchisedek from 1801-1860.  In regard to the Arch and Knights Templar degrees (in Ireland during the 1800s) Jones (1965) states, “…. a degree known as the Sacred Band Royal Arch Knights Templars,  Priests after the Order of Melchisedec….” their certificates contained the following, “… Wisdom built her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars; the light that cometh from wisdom shall never go out.”


The Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests: (KTP) - “The Pillar’d Priests”

a.         The KTP (as the Order is commonly referred to) could be called “Order of Melchisedek”, but also White Mason, Order of Holy Wisdom, (Holy) Order of High-Priesthood, etc.  Even a Gnostic Melchisedekian Order, but that is another story.  Refer Appendix ‘B’ for a complete list of the degrees within the KTP.  The ceremonies within the Order (KTP) are full of symbolism, eg, Pillars teaching; Colours, plus Knocks, Proficiency, further Light, Scripture reading, breaking of Seal, opening of Door, Promise given Lamp to light, permission to Enter, seven Promises, and A.R. to the final Veil.  The “masonic date” accorded this Order is known as Anno Benedictiois. In the Year of the Blessing.  Add 1913 to the Calendar Year.  Refer “Holy Order of High Priesthood” B.C. & Yukon, Canada.  In the gnostic "Book of the Great Logos" mention is made of; a) Melchisedek and the Seven Voices, and the Seven Virgins, and b) Jesus and the Seven Voices, and the Seven Virgins of Light.  Yet interesting though, Jonas in "The Gnostic Religion" makes no reference to Melchisedeq.  I believe this is because his pursuit is the Mandean, Mani, Hermes and Greek Gnostic lines of thought.

b.         The KTP traditional history is two fold:

i)          It appears to have its foundations in Ireland where records exist of workings dating back to the late 18th century.  From the writings it is suggested Knight Templars from various Craft lodges joined together as a "Union Band" to confer the degree.  There being no governing body to exercise control hence the chequered career of the degree.

ii)         In 1895 a Tabernacle (The Royal Kent) was created at Newcastle-upon-Tyne (England).  For a while the Order operated under the jurisdiction of the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees.  Finally, in 1923 the present Grand College was formed at Newcastle (England).  Refer Jackson "Beyond The Craft", 4th edition, 1994.

d.         High Priest:  Hebrews 7:14,17,20,21.  This is the culmination of the journey of the candidate and the readings which accompany it.  Snippert's from the New Bible Commentary should suffice to cover this aspect.  "... The epistle's writer has already asserted that Jesus can be, to all who obey Him, the source of eternal salvation because He has become on their behalf 'a high priest after the order of Melchizedek' (refer Heb. 5:6,9,10).  The OT Scriptures themselves both provide and authorise .... the priesthood of Melchizedek, after whose order the Messiah is by divine oath declared to be a priest forever (Gen. 14:17-20; Ps. 110:4).  This new order of priesthood implies and involves difference from, superiority over, and the supersession of, the old Levitical order".


Allied Masonic Degrees (AMD)

 "Order of Grand High Priest (London 1928)" or “Holy Order of Grand High Priest (London 1977)”

            To summarise this area, ie., Ritual No.3, reference is made to, and quoted from Cryer's "Speculations".  '..... Herein is a principle of "sacred priesthood" which has hovered around Freemasonry as long as the concept of knighthood. ..... It was no surprise when the "Antients Grand Lodge" from 1751 adopted the motto, "Kadosh Lo Adonai" (Holiness to the Lord) which was inscribed on the Mitre of the Jewish High Priest at Jerusalem. .....  The regalia/jewel is a mitre on a triangle, both in gold suspended by a red ribbon.  Annex ‘B’ contains a list of the degrees within the Allied Masonic Degrees (AMD).

            It must be noted that the Ritual No.3 of 1977 contains an excellent “History” of this Degree, including a lengthy explanation of where it believes Melchizedek fits in.  This ceremonial is itself possibly an amalgam of two distinct degrees; a) the blessing of Abram by Melchisedek, and four centuries later, b) the consecration of Aaron the Levite as the first Jewish High Priest.  Refer Annex ‘C’ for a suggested lineage chart relating to the subject.


Kabbalistic References:

Merkabah:  Chariot; by extension the mystical tradition that draws its inspiration from Ezekial.  Surely here is an eschatological view of the four banners in the HRA.  Refer Jellinek’s “Beth-Hamidrash”, Leipzig, 1853-78.


Metatron:  Elijah passes the comment; "... He is known as Metatron, the Divine High Priest of Heaven and Adam Kadmon (aka Atik Yoman).  As far as being the Christian messiah, it is understandable that he and the messiah may be confused since the spirit of the messiah traditionally issues forth from Metatron (Guide or Measurer of the Heavens).  However, a number of parallels do appear to exist between the Qumran (11Qmelch) heavenly Melchizedek and the Metatron of 3 Enoch.  They are both figures being held exalted; both are heavenly judges; and both had earthly lives prior to exaltation.  For Metatron refer 3En 16:1.



            If it is that Melchisedek was an avatar of Christ, then one only needs to relate to the sayings of Bhagavad to Arjuna, “ often as virtue declines in the world, I make myself manifest to save it” and ..”He who follows me is saved by wisdom and even by works..”.  Cabot in his "Inside The Cults", states, "..after the Aaronic Priesthood is the Melchizedek Priesthood ..... in the priestly hierarchy of the Mormon Church".  Whitford in his “The Enigma of Melchisedek” states, “The Jews dismiss M. as a personality of very minor importance”. Surely this would be obvious if it is understood M. was not of the Levitical line (of Moses) which prevailed after the Captivity.  Yet it can be equally said that M. is only a concept.  We still do not have final proof - One way, or the other?


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